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How to play piano.....

(7 Posts)
Greatballsofedam Mon 30-Jan-17 17:14:09

My DD (12) has been learning piano for the last 4 years and has flown through the grades .
She has decided that she wants to quit. We have come to a compromise that she carries on learning but there won't be any exams, and she can play pop off she wants.
This meant I have to find a new teacher as her old one is abrsm orientated.
We went to a trial lesson with a new teacher last week who basically played everything by ear without music books. He told my DD that it was a matter of chords and once she got the knack she would be able to play anything from ear.
It all sounds pretty good, especially for pop music as he literally YouTubed a song then played it.
However this isn't what I'm used to. Dd has always had music books to read the music from.
Opinions please, do you think sight reading is more important than playing by ear. I'm not sure how to proceed

Mistigri Mon 30-Jan-17 19:52:40

It depends what your DD wants to do and where she wants to go with it. Ultimately it's better for her to have fun playing rather than give up, surely?

We came at piano from the other direction: DD is a guitarist who started playing piano by ear before she had any formal lessons (she has since done two years of formal piano study). She can sit down and compose or improvise with no problems; she just works out the chords and plays around them.

Don't worry too much about sight reading: your DD can presumably sight read piano music quite well already, and it's not a skill you lose. I played piano to G6/7 as a child, stopped completely for about 30 years, but can still sight read better than DD! (even though she is in all other respects a far better pianist than I ever was).

onlymusic Mon 30-Jan-17 20:33:55

I would assume that pop music is way beyond your dd's piano skills and it just doesn't make sense to sight read? And yes, totally agreed, if she can figure out chords (left hand), it is only right hand melody, and what is it to sight read? I may not have proper pop music books, but those I have - I would be able to sight read and play right hand tune myself and I don't play any instrument, just played toy piano when I was a kid.

I may be wrong but this is the impression I have got from my dd piano lessons and aural skills.....

Ferguson Mon 30-Jan-17 20:36:15

Most piano 'students' learn some sight reading, and more difficult sight reading as they progress through the Grades. What Grade has DD got to, and how much Theory has she done, or does she understand?

But VERY few learners can play 'by ear' without printed music to fall back on.

So 'reading' is good if they want to play Classical music, 'standards' or Musical Shows. But if they want to play Jazz, or improvise or even just embellish the music they are reading, then an understanding of Theory, Harmony, all Scales and Modes etc is required.

Some of the VERY BEST musicianship, reading difficult 'charts' but also improvising accurately is to be heard from the Dave Arch orchestra (Strictly Come Dancing) or the Jools Holland band. These are some of the top musicians in the country (if not the World) and they 100% accurate 'readers' but also creative improvisers.

So, ideally an all-round musician needs to be able to do both - reading scores, but also improvising when appropriate.

If DD studies Theory, Scales and Harmony and really gets to UNDERSTAND music, then she may not even need a teacher.

BackforGood Mon 30-Jan-17 20:39:03

It depends where she wants to go with it.
It sounds like she has done very well with one technique, so might find it interesting to learn another way now. However, a lot of music teachers can teach piano - improve technique, range, sight reading etc through using music, just not entering them for exams. That's what my dd did when she decided she didn't want to do any more exams.
Interestingly though, whilst she was doing GCSE music, she taught herself guitar, and now she has a really good understanding of the chords, she will often play all sorts of tunes by downloading the tune onto her phone and just putting chords underneath herself. It's interesting that she can play a lot of contemporary music far better than others that I know who struggle with the irregularity of some modern music.
Nowt wrong with knowing two techniques if that is what she is actively wanting to choose.

onlymusic Mon 30-Jan-17 20:43:10

Greatballsofedam if your dd plays by ear so well, why don't you consider jazz lessons as Ferguson suggested? She seems to be in a good position to try jazz piano

Trumpetboysmum Mon 06-Feb-17 06:25:32

I was thinking jazz too ( then she could also play with a band as playing the piano is quite lonely. Ds's school and county jazz bands both have pianists) and I would also say just go for it with the new teacher the worst that can happen is it doesn't work out and you look for a new one but at least she isn't giving up

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